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Mar 29

Screenwriter apologizes for “Battlefield Earth”

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J.D. Shapiro: “I penned the suckiest movie ever — sorry!”

Among the bad movies that Hollywood churns out by the billions, “Battlefield Earth” stands out as one of the worst.

Based on the book by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, the 2000 film depicts a future in which humanity has been enslaved by the Psychlos, a greedy, manipulative alien race led by the powerful Terl (John Travolta). A young mountain man by the unlikely name of Jonnie Goodboy Tyler (Barry Pepper) decides to fight back.

Such material might have fared well … well, okay …  in the right hands.

But director Roger Christian and screenwriters J.D. Shapiro and Corey Mandell managed to turn “Battlefield Earth” into an absurd, incomprehensible and hideously overblown blockbuster plagued by poor acting, crazed cinematography and eight-foot-tall Rastafarians in platform boots.

Dennis Harvey of Variety hailed “Battlefield Earth” as “the Showgirls of sci-fi shoot-’em-ups.”  Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly described the film as “derivative sci-fi drivel,” and Detroit News writer Susan Stark called it “noisy, chaotic, sloppily edited and embarrassingly banal.”

Roger Ebert probably said it best: “Battlefield Earth’ is like taking a bus trip with someone who has needed a bath for a long time. It’s not merely bad; it’s unpleasant in a hostile way.”

Is it any wonder that “Battlefield Earth” won the coveted “Worst of the Decade” prize at this month’s Razzie Awards?

Today, in The New York Post, Shapiro — who also penned the spoof “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” — offered his sincere apologies for writing what he dubbed “the suckiest movie ever.”

“It wasn’t as I intended — promise,” Shapiro writes. “No one sets out to make a train wreck. Actually, comparing it to a train wreck isn’t really fair to train wrecks, because people actually want to watch those.”

Shapiro pins the blame, in fact, on his Willy Wonker. (For those of you unclear on that particular slang term, I’ll note that Maude Lebowski substitutes the words “rod” and “Johnson” in “The Big Lebowski.”)

Okay, so it’s not a foolproof excuse. But it takes a big man to admit he’s been wrong.

If only the rest of the “Battlefield Earth” crew — I’m looking at you, Travolta — was ballsy enough to own up to their own mistakes.

You can read the rest of Shapiro’s apology, plus his Razzie acceptance speech right here.

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Thanks to imdb.com.

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1 comment

  1. Chippy

    Of course, if he thinks “Men in Tights” is an example of a good movie, then really there’s no hope.

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